Give it up!

  • What would you be willing to give up in order to be effective in evangelism?  A verse that seems to shed light on that question is I Corinthians 9:22b “that I might by all means save some.”

Some take this verse to mean that methods are neutral and “anything goes.” Others take this verse to mean that in order to reach people, you must be like them.  So to reach those with tattoos and piercings, one should follow suit.  Though none would suggest this in order to reach natives who don’t wear clothes…

The text seems to indicate a third interpretation. The first three rules of interpretation are “context, context, context.”  I Corinthians 9:22 is found in the middle of a section that stretches from chapter 8-10.  The big idea is giving up my rights for the sake of others.  It does not speak of methods or strategies; rather it argues that a Christian should set aside rights for the sake of others.  It is not a blank check to pursue any method for evangelism.  It is a commitment to sacrifice for others.

  • It is the Moravian missionary that put himself on the auction block to be a slave the rest of his life so that he could reach slaves in the Caribbean.
  • It is the Apostle Paul who said he would be willing to go to hell for the sake of his fellow countrymen, if only they would become Christians.
  • It is the missionary who abandons himself on a remote island to live in primitive conditions — out of sight and beyond creature comforts.

My parents pioneered an area of Nigerian where missionaries had never gone. Because they opened the road to an outside word, the outside world came to those villages.  One of the things the Nigerians brought was bottled beer. Our family enjoyed coca cola (in bottles).  But the people in our village did not differentiate between Coke and beer.  They both came in bottles. Therefore the Nigerians assumed the missionary was getting drunk.  So for awhile, my parents stopped drinking Coca Cola.

The idea of I Corinthians 9:22 is simply that we should be willing to give up anything for the cause of Christ.


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